Tag Archive | Christmas

Happy Holidays, from Our Family to Yours

We didn’t send out Christmas cards this year.  With new responsibilities for many of us, it wasn’t high priority.  I suppose that has a lot to do with being able to keep in touch with people all year.  It used to be that the only time we heard from some of our friends was at Christmas time, via newsletters and cards.  Now, we chat, message each other, and share the events of our lives (and the mundane details, too).  It hardly seems necessary to pass on holiday greetings through the mail when we can share it in real time online.  While some may lament this as the passing of an era, I celebrate it.  How wonderful that we can come together like this!

That said, I’m saving paper this year.  I’m offering my holiday greetings in this blog post.  I don’t need to share what’s happened in our lives over the last year, most of you have seen it unfold online.  You’ve seen my status updates, tweets, and blog posts.  Besides, it’s been a relatively uneventful year for us.  Small changes, not big ones.  We continue to feel the love and blessings of friendship and kinship and we are thankful that you are all part of that.

For all our wonderful family and friends, we wish you the happiest of holidays in your many different traditions.  May your new year be full of promise and hope.

Much love,

The Mitchells

 

Have a Historically Accurate and Politically Correct Christmas

Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I’m a Scrooge at heart.  (Actually, that might very well be; I haven’t even wanted to send out cards this year.)  Or maybe it’s all the talk about the “war on Christmas.”  Maybe it’s seeing all those Facebook posts with the arrows declaring, “This person is a real, true Christian who believes the real meaning of Christmas is making sure that you give your family stuff in JESUS NAME!  Amen!!!!!”  Maybe it’s seeing all the holiday lights, the decorations, the jingly Christmas ads, and knowing that for a lot of people, this isn’t a happy holiday.  Whatever the reason, I’m noticing things I’ve never picked up on before about the way we retell the Christmas story.

In the midst of all the annual holiday angst over how we greet one another in honor of the season, it strikes me that we’ve sort of fetishized the Christmas story.  We fixate on the minutiae.  How many times have I heard people go on about Mary’s age, or the exact date and time of year, or how there weren’t actually three wise men, or how dirty and disgusting the stable was or any number of other details?  It’s not that those things don’t matter.  It’s just that they matter a lot less than we’d like them to.

I think I understand.  We don’t want to lose sight of Jesus’ humanity when honoring his divinity.  We want to make it clear that he was fully human, enough to be born into humble circumstances.  And I certainly don’t believe we’ve missed the mark on giving God glory and worshiping the child who will one day redeem humankind.  But there’s something a little bit unhealthy about the way we concentrate on the least important parts of the Christmas story.

It’s almost like we’re trying to build the most historically accurate version of the story.  So we research the finer points, making sure that Mary is appropriately teenaged, the shepherds are appropriately scruffy, and the barn is appropriately manure-laden. It’s as if we believe it matters whether we have an artist’s rendering or a photograph, and we want the photo.  In so doing, we miss the point entirely.

The whole point is that God didn’t flash to earth in the form of a cosmic lightning bolt.  His birth was only celebrated by scraggly shepherds (Luke 2:8-18), foreigners (Matthew 2:1-12), and a couple of potentially crazy people (Luke 2:22-38). (All right, that last one is a stretch.  There’s no evidence Simeon or Anna were actually insane.  But what would you think if someone at church started prophesying like that over your kid?)  The point is not, “My living nativity is more accurate than thine.”  It’s God, coming down and living among us clothed in flesh, in such a way that he could even be overlooked.  Instead of entering our world in a way that would surely make it clear that HE WAS GOD, He chose to come without anything at all.

This year, let’s stop worrying about how we give our holiday greetings.  Let’s not stress about the exact details of the story.  Instead, let’s fix in our hearts the words of Simeon:

Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.

Music to Grit Your Teeth To

One thing I’ve discovered over the years is that people are really, really passionate about songs they hate.  They are, perhaps, even more passionate than about songs they love.  Over on Facebook, I posted, “Name a Christmas song you wish you would never hear again.”  I must say, I had some unexpected responses.

It should come as no surprise that the number one hated song was “Christmas Shoes.”  Since most of my friends are a lot wittier than I am, let me share their comments:

“That awful Christmas Shoes song. It makes me want to slit my wrists.”

“Please, please, PLEASE! Can we get rid of sappy Christmas Shoes!? We get it. It’s Christmas, and it’s sad.”

“The Christmas Shoes song needs to go. I’ll tell you—I work with the dying every day. Their kids are not out there buying shoes.”

“Another vote for Christmas Shoes. I change the station every time it comes on.”

“Christmas Shoes” tops my list as well.  It has all my personal criteria for a horrible song.  It’s too long, the tune is terrible, it features an urban legend as the plot, and it tries to suck you in by being sappy and sentimental.  It’s the musical version of fingernails on a blackboard.  When I hear it, I want to scream and smash things.

Other contenders for worst Christmas song:

-I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (second most hated; I agree.  Creepy, and why is the kid excited her mother is kissing someone that supposedly isn’t her dad?)

-Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (this one took third place)

-Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time

-Baby It’s Cold Outside (two votes and a comparison to date rape)

-Marshmallow World

-Happy Holidays (For some reason, this conjures images of women in snowflake costumes.  Was that in a movie?)

-Winter Wonderland

-Jingle Bells

-Anything involving snow

-Snoopy vs. the Red Baron (I had to look this one up.  Yes, it’s bad.)

-Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song (Okay, not a Christmas song exactly, but it gets a lot of radio time at this season.)

-Last year, a friend posted that he really, really hates Santa, Baby (Yep, nothing says Merry Christmas like rampant materialism.)

Besides “Christmas Shoes,” I’m throwing in votes for “I’m Getting Nuttin’ for Christmas” (any and all versions, but especially the original), “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” (Really, kid?  That’s all?), and those stupid barking dogs singing “Jingle Bells.”

Someday, perhaps someone will make a CD of all the songs people hate.  I’ll bet it will be a big seller, just for the novelty.  Feel free to chime in with your own bad Christmas song list.

Up next: The other side of Christmas music, the very best songs.